Monday, July 28, 2014

Player Profile - Kenneth "Petey" Hepburn

Petey Hepburn at the NRFL Combine (left) and chasing down a Georgian "Lelo" at the 2013 Hong Kong 7s. 

Name: Kenneth Hepburn
Nickname: Petey
Height/Weight: 5' 11 3/4"/ 237lbs
Positions played: Prop/flanker
Current Clubs: HARC as a player, CyFair HS as a  coach.

How did you get into rugby? Saw it on a college campus tour. One of my buddies (from) high school was playing and said I should come out to a practice. Went out to one practice and that's all it took. Hooked for life.

Rugby Honors:  Texas Collegiate Selects 2002-2005, Western Collegiate Selects 2003, USA U19s 2003, Atlantis 7s, Texas South Region selects 2013(C), Jamaica Rugby 7's (Co-Capt), Houston Elite City 7's, initial NRFL Combine

No awards, I guess that should bother me. Looking at it now, it just makes me want to work harder. Not for the awards themselves but because I feel I have something to prove every time I set foot on a pitch, whether for training or a match.

Most memorable rugby moment: It's a tie really and I'll tell you why. One was such a building block in my rugby career and the other is what it looks like when you stack all of the boxes up and clump on top. Finally learning how to tackle, which happened at the end of a training session, is an event that to this day I can still feel in my bones. I was made to tackle all of my teammates until none were able to get passed me. This took almost an hour. I had never tackled before being an offensive lineman and it proved difficult. At the end my coach lined up and said "tackle me" I hit him with all I had left and he ended training.  He said to me " that's what it takes.....before anyone else have to." On the flip side, running out of the tunnel for the first time ever at HSBC Sevens World Series was surreal. It's what happens when you believe haha
Petey breaking the line versus the Dallas Reds.

Most embarrassing rugby moment: Getting knocked out in my first rugby game.

Pre-match ritual? Don't really have one. Just listen to music and relax. I don't like to be too tense before.

Your strongest influence in rugby? It's cliche but I'd have to say my mom. She always supports me and always has. As a matter of fact, I remember she showed up to her first game with a cooler full of beer and water ready to cheer me on. Gotta love mom.

Your rugby hero? Dennis Walker (Center - Houston United Rugby Team ). Hardest runner I've ever seen and one of the classiest guys on and off the pitch.  I like classic players that have class: Brian O'Driscoll, Andrew Mehrtens, Jonny Wilkinson, Justin Marshall, the Franks brothers, Richie McCaw; to name a few.

Your ultimate rugby goal? I'm getting up there in rugby years, options available to me 2 or 3 years ago are no longer. My ultimate rugby goal is to play professionally. Not just for money but because I know that if I do get the chance to play at that level, I worked my ass of to get there.

What do you do outside of rugby? I am a PE teacher. I also coach middle school football and track and just coached my first season of high school rugby.

What motivates you - in rugby and outside of it? Someone asked me that before and my answer sounds so rehearsed but it’s true. I get motivation out of the ability and chance to motivate and inspire others. If I can step off the pitch and my teammates say "Petey mate, well done today" that's great. But when one of them comes up to me and asks how to become a harder runner, that's what I get a charge out of. That's what makes me want to work harder and get better because I know I'm a motivation for someone else.
Petey with his HARC teammates after a match.

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